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Multicultural Day at Fellows Elementary

Fellows Elementary Multicultural Day

Fellows Elementary held a Multicultural Day for students on September 28 when they collaborated with CultureALL, a Des Moines area company. CultureALL reaches out into the community to identify real people and resources, and connect them to the needs of schools, communities, and businesses. CultureALL programs are about “more than discovering other cultures’ arts, clothes and language. They are about shifting perspective, discovering new concepts, and experiencing differences. We create cultural experiences that spark a desire to know more about the people and cultures around us,” according to their website. Ambassadors from Mexico, Scotland, Senegal in West Africa, Kenya, and Japan helped Fellows students gain new perspectives on the rich cultures that exist within Iowa and beyond.

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Advocate. Listener. Social Worker. Life Saver. Jean Muhammad

Jean Muhammad

The City of Ames is an affluent community full of Iowa State University professors and staff. The city boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state: 1.8% in March 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is continually ranked as one of the best places to live. The Ames Chamber of Commerce website links to 102 lists that date back to 2009 that include “Best College Towns,” “Smartest Cities in America,” Most Livable Cities in America,” and “Best-Performing Small Cities” type lists.

The Ames Community School District also has lists that point to academic excellence. For the past 6 years, the District has ranked as the #1 District in the State of Iowa by Niche. Ames High has ranked as the #1 High School for the past 4 years. All these lists point to Ames’ favorable economy, business climate, cost of living, and sense of community, and they are all true. Ames is a great community, with a great university, and has an amazing school district.

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Falls Sports Highlights 2018

Fall Sports Recap

Girls Swimming and Diving

The Ames High Girls Swimming & Diving team entered the 2018 Iowa Girls State Championships as the only team to understand what it felt like to be team state champions. Ames High had won 3 straight state titles, and 7 of the last 8 years, heading into the competition this year. Needless to say, this year’s squad not only had the pressure of the competition weighing on their minds, but the pressure of continuing Ames High’s dynasty in girls swimming.

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) state meet was held on November 2-3 in Marshalltown. For the first time in head coach Dan Flannery’s storied career, he qualified every entrant, 30 for 30, for the state meet.

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Critical Consciousness: Year Two

Critical Consciousness

Understanding and developing tools to address oppression, implicit bias, and deficit thinking are at the heart of what Drs. Daniel Spikes and Katy Swalwell are hoping to accomplish as they enter their second of three years of critical consciousness training with Ames CSD staff. This year, the work is expanding beyond principals and including instructional coaches and other staff in each building. Next year, administrators, under the guidance of Spikes and Swalwell, will roll out the training to all staff.

In the training, Spikes and Swalwell define a critically conscious person as one who is able to reflect on and take action in the world in order to make it more equitable and just. To make that academic definition more applicable to everyday life, it’s being able to recognize when inequity exists and knowing what steps to take that help address the issue.

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Mental Health Conference 2018

Mental Health Conference

On November 15, the Ames CSD hosted a mental health conference at Ames High that was free to families, students, and educators in the Ames community and surrounding areas. The conference served as a great way to help educate the community on a variety of issues and to connect them with available resources.

The conference was a partnership with District schools, Story County Community Partnerships for Protecting Children, and The Cameron Carico +10 Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “Promote happy and healthy students and families in central Iowa through suicide prevention and mental health education.”

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Collaborative Proactive Solutions

Collaborative Proactive Solutions

If a student is having difficulties in the area of math, no teacher would ever attribute that to the student not wanting to understand the subject. They would simply need additional resources to help them learn the concepts and to practice it. Principal Steve Flynn and his staff at Meeker Elementary are applying that principle to behavior as well based on the book Lost and Found: Helping Behaviorally Challenging Students (and, While You’re At It, All the Others) by Ross W. Greene.

“It really is a paradigm shift to how we address behavior within our school. It goes away from the traditional notion that students will do well if they want to do well, and instead suggests that students will do well if they can,” says Flynn. Last year, Flynn saw that traditional discipline was having a limited impact on students because they were being punished without a gameplan on how to equip students to manage their behavior. “We often assume that behavior is a student choice, so we think we need to come up with a bigger punishment.” Without educating students, the behavior and frustration only continues.

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Establishing Board Priorities

Establishing Board Priorities

Work session: September 26, 2018

On September 26, District administrators partnered with the board of directors during a work session to establish board priorities. Superintendent Risner said, “One of my first goals in joining the Ames Community School District was to bring our leaders together and identify what our purpose truly is. In other words, what is the reason we do what we do. During our toughest times, our purpose should be our foundation or anchor. My second important task was to establish clear priorities to guide our work, decision making, and allocation of resources.”

After many conversations, planning, and research, our administrators and board of directors took an important step and joined together to define our purpose and district priorities which you will see below. The opportunity provided the two groups to share and align visions from a philosophical and practical standpoint. The groups worked in breakout sessions to develop goals around five priorities sections. What they created was a living document that will evolve over time and become embedded in operational and educational practices.

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Reading Portraits

Reading Portraits

Genya Coffey and her 1st grade colleagues at Sawyer Elementary are taking time to teach students how to read portraits. “Reading portraits is a great introduction to several important first grade skills such as making careful observations and drawing inferences based on evidence. Using visual literacy makes these skills accessible to every student regardless of their current reading level.”

After comparing and contrasting dozens of portraits with partners and reflecting as a whole group, students constructed a working definition of portrait, then began considering where portraits can be found. Students discovered that they can be found just about anywhere. Next, students dug into identifying common elements that can be observed in portraits to help describe them.  

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All-State Music 2018

All State Music

On October 20, Iowa High School All State Music Festival Auditions were held across the state and Ames High had 32 students selected to participate in the prestigious event. The 2018 festival is celebrating its 72nd anniversary and will be held at Hilton Coliseum on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa on November 16-17.

According to an all-state press release, only about 17% of students who audition are selected for all-state. Ames High has traditionally made a great showing at all-state, and last year qualified 28 students across all ensembles of band, orchestra, and choir.

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Ames High Career Fair 2018

AHS Career Fair

On Wednesday, October 10, the entire student body at Ames High participated in a full day career fair. This year’s event came on the heels of one held last academic school year in February 2018. Prior to that, it had been nearly 15 years since Ames High hosted a career fair.

This year’s event expanded on the efforts from last year, which only served the freshman class. The organizational team led by Ames High Business Teacher Vicki Hales, quickly realized that all students at Ames High would benefit from career exposure. “There are more and more students leaving Ames High without having a clear idea of what they want to do. Getting them more exposure to potential career opportunities that they can further explore is valuable as we better prepare them for what lies ahead.” Recent Iowa legislation also emphasizes the importance of providing all students with ongoing and meaningful experiences to explore career options and help them navigate these choices for their future.

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